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Thread: At Satellite Courthouses, 9/11 Relatives Will Watch Moussaoui's Sentencing

  1. #71
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    Court hears 9/11 conspirator's appeal in Va.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/...TlFiQD95V1F8OH

    By LARRY O'DELL – 17 hours ago

    RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Zacarias Moussaoui's guilty plea in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was invalid because the government failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his defense, his attorney told a federal appeals court Monday.

    Justin Antonipillai urged a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to throw out the plea and order a new trial for Moussaoui, who once claimed to be part of the 2001 conspiracy but has since changed his story. Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison.

    U.S. Justice Department attorney Kevin Gingras argued that Moussaoui, the only person to stand trial in a U.S. court in the 9/11 attacks, knew the trial judge was considering ways to get the favorable evidence to him but decided to plead guilty anyway.

    "It was his choice to pull the plug on the process," said Gingras. The prosecutor said U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema "bent over backward" to ensure that Moussaoui understood what he was doing and the consequences.

    The panel peppered both attorneys with questions for 90 minutes before closing the hearing for about an hour to consider matters involving classified information.

    The court usually takes several weeks, or even months, to issue a decision.

    In open court, Chief Judge Karen J. Williams sounded skeptical of Antonipillai's claim that Moussaoui's trial preparations were impaired by government secrecy that some of his constitutional rights were violated.

    Williams wondered aloud how the court could conclude that the government would have continued to conceal the evidence had the case gone to trial. She also noted Moussaoui testified that he was supposed to hijack a fifth plane and crash it into the White House.

    Antonipillai said Moussaoui had "delusions of grandeur," and his confession was contradicted by alleged 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who said Moussaoui was training for a different operation and had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

    "This evidence was absolutely critical to the defense," Antonipillai said.

    The prosecutor said Moussaoui knew the gist of the evidence that was being withheld and pleaded guilty against the advice of his lawyers.

    Antonipillai said defense lawyers were not able to explain the reasons for their advice. He also argued that Moussaoui should not have been eligible for the capital punishment because he was not directly responsible for the Sept. 11 deaths. Although the jury spared Moussaoui the death penalty, Antonipillai said his eligibility left life in prison as the only alternative.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #72
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    New arguments ordered in 9/11 conspirator's case

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090714/...saoui_appeal_2

    7/13/2009

    RICHMOND, Va. – A federal appeals court ordered new arguments Tuesday in the case of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui, the only person to stand trial for the terrorist attacks in a U.S. court.

    A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the Moussaoui case in January. But one of those judges, Karen J. Williams, retired last week — effectively immediately — after being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

    Williams' departure prompted the court to schedule a rehearing, court clerk Patricia Connor said. She said the court may have to order new arguments in some other pending cases heard by Williams. However, none will have a higher profile than the Moussaoui case.

    Moussaoui is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to helping plan the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. His lawyer, Justin Antonipillai, declined to comment on Tuesday's court order.

    In January, Antonipillai argued that Moussaoui's guilty plea was invalid because the government failed to turn over evidence that could have helped his defense. He asked for a new trial for Moussaoui, who once claimed to be part of the 2001 conspiracy but has since changed his story.

    U.S. Justice Department attorney Kevin Gingras argued that Moussaoui knew the trial judge was considering ways to get the favorable evidence to him but decided to plead guilty anyway.

    Williams sounded skeptical of Moussaoui's claims then, asking how the court could conclude that the government would have continued to conceal the evidence had the case gone to trial.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #73
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    Why a 9/11 "Plotter" Deserves a Re-Trial

    http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...wsletter-daily

    By BRUCE CRUMLEY
    7/18/2009

    It isn't easy to have sympathy for Frenchman Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in connection with the September 11 terror attacks. During his trial, Moussaoui pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and prayed that al-Qaeda succeeds in its violent jihad against the U.S; he also mocked the families of 9/11 victims and dared the court to inflict the harshest punishment for the crimes which, after veering erratically between denial and advocacy, he finally took responsibility for. In May 2006, a jury decided against the death penalty but sent Moussaoui, now 41, to life imprisonment and near total isolation in Colorado's ADX Supermax prison.

    Now Moussaoui says he regrets pleading guilty. But, he has a problem: U.S. law does not allow those who have taken that route to appeal their cases. His only shot at winning a lighter sentence is the July 14 decision by a federal appeals court in Virginia to re-hear arguments that the government had failed to turn over key evidence to Moussaoui and his lawyer that might have helped in his defense. As politically untenable as it may seem, President Barack Obama should support Moussaoui's efforts to win another trial.

    Why? Because justice and sympathy are different issues. Moussaoui's courtroom antics and declarations were outrageous but the prosecution of his trial was a farce nonetheless. Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema repeatedly criticized certain aspects of the prosecutors' efforts to win a guilty verdict as both underhanded and illegal. At one point in the trial, Brinkema rebuked prosecutors for illegally coaching a witness from a federal agency. She called that tampering "an egregious" and a "significant error by the government affecting the... integrity of the criminal justice system of the United States."

    On one occasion Brinkema backed Moussaoui's call to cite testimony from Guantanamo prisoners and 9/11 masterminds Khaled Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh for his defense. Prosecutors resisted that demand, claiming the information was classified. (Moussaoui would win the right to use parts of statements by the 9/11 puppet masters, who described the Frenchman as too erratic and unreliable to be let in on the plot.)

    However, Moussaoui continued to make himself the ever-ready scapegoat in the pursuit of 9/11 justice that seemed to provide no other perpetrators to prosecute. He was, indeed, a dream come true for the prosecution. First, he fired his defense team, zigged and zagged between pleading innocent and guilty, and ranted in ways that had some observers questioning his sanity. And the circumstantial evidence against him didn't make Moussaoui look any better: he was arrested in August, 2001 while attending a Minnesota flight school. When investigators took a closer look at him after 9/11, they discovered jihadist literature and plane flying information on his computer. Further inquiry led to the discovery that Binalshibh had wired him $14,000 from Germany; a check with French officials showed that he'd long been under watch as a suspected jihadist who'd made the de rigeur trip to al-Qaeda's Afghan haven.

    But Moussaoui had been in jail nearly a month when the attack occurred, meaning he couldn't have been directly responsible for it. Moussaoui was also a lousy student who flunked out of several flight schools. And, most importantly, the statements by Sheikh Mohammed and Binalshibh confirmed what anyone watching his trial already knew: Moussaoui was too big a loud-mouth and hot-head to let anywhere near a plot like 9/11. In the end, Moussaoui's conviction relied almost entirely on his own guilty plea and inconsistent admissions to having wanted to carry out terror attacks in the U.S.

    His mother Aicha el-Wafi, told TIME that Moussaoui informed her that he pleaded guilty in the fatalistic belief the process had to be rigged, that no American court would ever give a sworn enemy a fair chance. American values include respecting the rights of even those who attack them. That's been a key consideration in Obama's moves to roll back many Bush administration policies in the war on terror. During a recent speech in Cairo, the U.S. President explained his decision to close the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison as part of a wider push to reverse extra-legal Bush administration security measures that stomped on long-standing principles of American civil liberty. Seeking to defend fundamental American ideas from attack in that way, Obama noted, "led us to act contrary to our ideals."

    Thanks to the Virginia appeals court ruling, Obama has an opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to those ideals, as unpalatable as Moussaoui may be. The Frenchman should be re-tried for what he actually did, rather than what he says.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #74
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    US appeals court upholds Moussaoui conviction for 9/11
    Zacarias Moussaoui had challenged the validity of his original guilty plea

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8440495.stm

    1/4/2010

    A US appeals court has upheld the conviction and sentence of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

    The only person charged in the US over the attacks, Moussaoui had originally pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

    In 2006 he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in planning the attacks that killed nearly 3,000.

    The appeals court in Virginia rejected his claim his conviction was invalid as the government had failed to provide evidence he could have used in defence.

    'Awareness'
    "Moussaoui challenges the validity of his guilty plea and his sentences" on the various counts, the three-judge panel said in its ruling.

    "We affirm Moussaoui's convictions and sentences in their entirety."

    The appeals court also brushed aside Moussaoui's lawyers' claims that his guilty plea was invalid.

    "The finality of the guilty plea, entered knowingly, intelligently, and with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences, stands," the court said in its statement.

    During his original trial in 2005, he had testified that his role was to hijack a fifth plane and crash it into the White House.

    After the verdict, Moussaoui changed his stance and denied any involvement in the attacks.

    But lawyers from the US justice department told the appeal court that Moussaoui had wanted to plead guilty, even though this was against the advice of his lawyers.

    Spared death
    At his appeal, his lawyers also argued that his preparations for the trial had been damaged because he was not aware of classified evidence held by the government that might have helped his case.

    These claims were also thrown out by the appeals court, which said Moussaoui was both aware of his rights and knew the gist of the classified evidence in question.

    Moussaoui is currently serving his life sentence in a super-maximum federal security prison in Colorado.

    During his original trial, the jury in Alexandria, Virginia, ruled that Moussaoui's lies to US investigators after he was arrested led directly to at least one death on 9/11.

    He was convicted of several counts of conspiracy - including to commit acts of terrorism and destroy aircraft - which carry the death penalty.

    Though the prosecution had requested it, he was spared death because of a single vote against the penalty by an anonymous juror.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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